Arrow in the Head reviews the latest Full Moon production, writer/director William Butler’s Demonic Toys: Jack Attack
PLOT: After her foster mother is killed by the demonic jack-in-the-box Jack Attack, 16-year-old Lily is placed with another family… and then Jack Attack returns to wipe them out as well.
REVIEW: Back in 1992, Full Moon introduced horror fans to the Demonic Toys. Four tiny terrors that look like something you’d find in a kid’s playroom, but are actually homicidal servants to demonic masters. There was Jack Attack, a clown jack-in-the-box with a maniacal laugh, sharp teeth, and a tentacle tail; Grizzly Teddy, a vicious teddy bear; Mister Static, a robot that rolls on tank treads and fires deadly lazers from its gun arms; and mouthy baby doll Baby Oopsie. The Demonic Toys never gained as much popularity as the puppets from Full Moon’s Puppet Master series, but they did get a franchise of their own. They battled a miniature Tim Thomerson in Dollman vs. Demonic Toys (where Grizzly Teddy was replaced by a soldier action figure called Zombietoid), they tried to ruin Christmas in the Sci-Fi Channel production Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys, and after those “vs.” movies it was time for Demonic Toys 2. Then Full Moon decided to start making solo toy spin-offs, as they have done with the Puppet Master franchise and the recent entries Blade: The Iron Cross and Puppet Master: Doktor Death. The first solo spin-off was Baby Oopsie, which was divided up into multiple chapters, all written and directed by Demonic Toys 2 writer/director William Butler. Now Butler has returned to the toy box to bring us Demonic Toys: Jack Attack.
If you haven’t been keeping up with the Demonic Toys franchise, don’t worry, it won’t have an impact on your Jack Attack viewing experience. While there are glimpses of TV news reports that acknowledge the events of Baby Oopsie, the movie’s story is self-contained and any questions that arise along the way are answered in the end.
The film centers on 16-year-old Lily (Sofia Castellanos), first seen while in the midst of a terrifying situation where she and her foster mother Mrs. Benson (Tari Lyn Bergoine) are being tormented by Jack Attack and its new full-bodied clown sidekick Dimples (Xavier Dellinger). This situation does not have a happy ending, leaving Mrs. Benson dead and Lily so traumatized that she stops speaking and spends all her time doodling images of evil clowns. Going against the advice of orphanage head Mrs. Culver (Donna Steele), who believes Lily is a lost cause who was “born into darkness”, Audrey Haines (Mabel Thomas) of Child Protective Services has Lily placed in a new home, where she joins the Yost family: Tyler and Kate (Sean Ramey and Christine Brunner) and teenage kids Mike and Dewey (Carson Polish and Taylor Abigail Rice). Lily barely has time to settle in before Jack Attack and Dimples show up and start wiping out her new family members – in fact, most of the movie takes place during Lily’s first night in the Yost home. Handyman Clinton (Timothy Novotny) and Mike’s girlfriend Starr (Maddie Small) are also around to add more potential victims into the mix.
Demonic Toys: Jack Attack moves at an accelerated pace, wrapping up in just 59 minutes. There isn’t much time spent on letting the viewer get to know or like the characters, with most of them being presented in fast, broad strokes. Kate is nice, Tyler is questionable, Dewey is obsessed with live-streaming, Starr is jealous and worried that Lily is going to try to take Mike from her, Clinton is a creep. There’s not much to these people, but the actors do a fine job with the material they’re given to work with. Castellanos makes the silent Lily an intriguing presence, and Thomas really stands out as the helpful-but-troubled Audrey. I can’t say I was totally on board with everything Butler wrote for Lily and Audrey, but the fact that I feel conflicted about what happens with them shows that Castellanos and Thomas were able to get me invested in their characters.
But we’re not drawn to a movie like this by the promise of getting to know new human characters. We’re here for the killer jack-in-the-box, the scares, the suspenseful stalking sequences, and the death scenes. The movie does pack plenty of that into its short running time. There’s a scene in a barn that gave me unexpected flashbacks to the first Critters movie. There are some fun, satisfying kills. And there are some freaky, nightmarish visuals.
Horror fans, and particularly Full Moon fans, will probably have some fun watching Demonic Toys: Jack Attack. There’s not much substance, but this short and simple movie’s hour of supernatural stalking and slashing is entertaining. And it gives us a chance to spend a little more time with an iconic member of the Demonic Toys troupe. As for ranking the film within the overall franchise… It’s not on the level of the first Demonic Toys, and I would put it below both “vs.” movies (even though the Puppet Master crossover isn’t considered canon, since it wasn’t a Full Moon production), because I really enjoy both of those. But I would pick Jack Attack over Demonic Toys 2 and Baby Oopsie.
A bit of an aside: as a native of the area where this movie was made, I really loved seeing the countryside scenery. It was a glimpse of home for me. The end credits reveal that the primary location was the Sugarbush Inn in Mansfield, Ohio. If you’d like to stay in the place where Demonic Toys: Jack Attack was filmed, the property can be booked on Airbnb.
Demonic Toys: Jack Attack will be available to watch on the Full Moon Features streaming service as of August 25th.
Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/demonic-toys-jack-attack-review/